A mother in Lake Travis ISD said two students knowingly endangered her son with a severe peanut allergy by planting peanuts in his belongings. Community members have expressed frustration and outrage over the district’s response to the incident.

What happened

LTISD parent Shawna Mannon said her son Carter broke out into hives after two of his teammates on the Lake Travis High School varsity football team placed peanuts in his athletic locker, cleats and uniform. The incident took place after the students learned her son had a life-threatening peanut allergy, she said at a Nov. 15 board of trustees meeting.

“These boys were handed minimal consequences for their actions,” Mannon said. “Since this incident, my son has faced backlash and retaliation almost daily. This incident has brought to light a gap in the current school policies and the code of conduct regarding food allergies.”

A district official confirmed that two high school students placed peanut products on the student's belongings but said the district could not provide further details. A letter to parents Nov. 9 states that “at no time was peanut butter spread on a helmet or uniform.”

In the letter, Superintendent Paul Norton said district administrators applied consequences following the incident but could not share how students were punished due to federal privacy laws that protect minors. The district’s police department submitted an investigative report to the assistant district attorney's office and has yet to receive a determination, according to the letter.

What they’re saying

Several community members and food allergy advocates spoke at the Nov. 15 board meeting to express their disdain over the district’s response and concerns for students’ safety. Some speakers claimed that the district’s disciplinary response was minimal and that the students should’ve been sent to a disciplinary program or expelled.

“Two high school students tried to kill their teammate by essentially poisoning him,” Jenny Crutchlow said. “Expel the perpetrators from the team and from the school. Show the community that you take violence and food allergies seriously.”

A couple parents in the district shared similar instances of their children being targeted or threatened because of their food allergies. LTISD parent Charlene Burns said her son was bullied for his allergies on his middle school football team.

“A precedent has been set conveying the message that vulnerability can be exploited without repercussions except for those suffered by the victim,” Burns said. “Our district boasts robust policies and programs on paper, but they remain just words.”

One parent of a child with severe food allergies shared a statement at the meeting from Food Allergy Research and Education, a food allergy advocacy nonprofit.

“We condemn the reprehensible actions of students who engaged in this bullying incident and believe that such behavior should not be tolerated by the school system,” the statement reads.

What board members are saying

Although board members are unable to respond to public comment, Place 3 board member Erin Archer shared an opening remark before speakers approached the podium.

“The seven of us here are all parents of LTISD students, and we wouldn't be here volunteering our time if we did not care deeply about the student outcomes of all the children in the district,” Archer said. “I would like us to all remember that we’re neighbors. We’re parents. We’re fellow community members.”